1996 RALLY INDONESIA
Thursday 9 May
MITSUBISHI READY FOR INDONESIAN CHALLENGE
FIA World Rally Championship leader Team Mitsubishi Ralliart is ready to meet the challenge of the third round of the series, the Rally of Indonesia, which starts in Medan tomorrow, May 10. Two Group A Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IIIs are entered for Drivers' Championship leaders Tommi Makinen/Seppo Harjanne, and Richard Burns/Robert Reid.
Makinen and Harjanne start as favourites after winning the opening two rounds of the world series, while Burns and Reid are contesting the rally as part of their FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship programme of which the Rally of Indonesia is the second round.
Both cars have undergone extensive testing in preparation for this unique three-day 1,288 km event which features 27 stages covering 461 km through the rubber and palm oil plantations of northern Sumatra. Both cars have tested new Michelin tyres which have been developed specifically for this type of event.
Makinen, who finished third for Mitsubishi on this event last year, enthused: "The car feels good and I know that it's very strong and well-suited to this rally. The new Michelin tyres are fantastic, with so much grip and a very good feeling. I am very confident that this will be a very good rally for us."
Richard Burns, who demonstrated his speed and ability in the Lancer on the first round of the Asia-Pacific series in Thailand this year, was more cautious: "I want to finish this event well. I am hoping for a top three, but this rally is very unpredictable. However, I know we have the best car for Indonesia."
High temperatures, reaching 36 degrees Celsius, combined with oppressive humidity and frequent heavy rain showers make the Rally of Indonesia one of the most difficult events in international rallying. Makinen reports that temperatures inside the car can reach 60 degrees Celsius, and that the sudden rain showers can turn good tracks with plenty of grip into dangerously slippery quagmires.
Team Mitsubishi Ralliart Director Andrew Cowan commented: "We're quietly confident of a good result here. Everything is in place and we're very well prepared. The drivers both know this rally well and have plenty of experience of the conditions, and they've had a good recce. Both Richard and Tommi are very relaxed. My only worry is the rain, which has fallen heavily every day since our arrival. These conditions are totally unique and can turn the event into a lottery. But it's the same for everybody and we're ready for it, so we are very hopeful."
The Rally of Indonesia starts from Merdeka Square in central Medan at 09:00 tomorrow, from where the 66 competing cars will head south to the Lake Toba resort of Parapat, completing nine special stages covering 140 km in a route totalling 329 km before the finish of the first leg at around 19:20.
Copyright 1996 by Mitsubishi Motors Corporation.
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